SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Welcome to the Urasenke Foundation tea room in San Francisco.
Here in a dimly-lit tranquil and quaint setting, founding director Christy Bartlett teaches students “chado” or “the way of tea.”
It’s a 400-year tradition in Kyoto, Japan that brings people from all walks of life together by the simple yet intricate practice of a host boiling water and making a bowl of tea for their guest.
“‘Way of tea’ indicates it is something that is approached wholeheartedly, and over a long a period of time, dedicating oneself to that study. Just as the athletes at the Olympics themselves to the field of sport,” said Bartlett.
The process is considered art and is related to the philosophy of Zen and Taoism.
“The host is focusing themselves, and the guests are focusing themselves. But they’re focusing on the same thing. So, that brings them very close together,” added Bartlett.
Dialogue unfolds over time, guided by the utensils to grind, whisk, and serve the powdered and frothy green tea.
Each item is placed in a specific place and used by a designated hand.
The modern practice of the way of tea was born out of the 16th century, known as the “100 Years of War.”
During that time of civil strife, tea rooms allowed for the preservation of peace, countering the violence outside.
“The way of tea is, let’s respect one another, let’s meet together in harmony. Let’s treat each other with purity of intention, and make this Olympic occasion one that will bring forth the best of all of us,” Bartlett said.